Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Similar to being grateful for having the opportunity to catch bands like Alunah, Grifter and Trippy Wicked at last year’s Desertfest in London, I’m excited at the chance to see Groan on stage. Having so thoroughly nerded out over their metallicized 2012 offering, The Divine Right of Kings (review here), it should be fun to see them do some of that material live, and all the more interesting now that they have two guitars. Seems like they can never quite keep still. All the better for the stage show.
Here at DesertFest HQ we’ve been doing some experiments. We ain’t messing around here – there are Bunsen burners, SPSS datasets and white lab coats lying around all over the place! So what have we learned from this cactus-tax funded piece of analysis? Well, during our careful dissection of a certain infamous British hard rock band, we have successfully proven the hypothesis that Groan are, in fact, 67% TRUE DOOM.
So what does this mean for the remaining 33% I hear you exclaim? Well, you can fill out the rest of that pie-chart with righteous segments of HARD rock, THUNDER BOOGIE heavy metal, INSANE trouser choices and a significant quantity of FACIAL hair. Groan were formed roughly around 1967 by guitarist The Riff Wizard who then met lead singer Lord Mazzereth in a field of frolicking, opium-fuelled virgin pagans; such fields as I’m told were in abundance at that time. Soon however the initial line-up became a forgotten myth confined to Celtic folklore and the rarest of parchment inscriptions sealed in a series of long lost mountain caves. Yet in 2009, Groan were resurrected and rose like a phoenix silhouetted by several glow-sticks from their tomb of rock. Lord Mazzereth, who some say is older than Jesus, had forgotten all of the old hymns, but a new line-up of devout worshippers to the altar of the noble ryffe were nonetheless recruited and they wrote some new, better gospels together in haste. Now rounded out as a well-drilled five-piece with the addition of former Invasion and Pettybone drummer Zel Kaute, plus Trippy Wicked drummer Chris West and Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) on guitars joining frontman Mazzereth and corduroy comedian Leigh Jones on bass, the time to Groan is now!
Here to rock your life out of control with the likes of ‘Witchy Woman’, ‘Throne of Weed’ and ‘Gods of Fire’, this is one party train of David Coverdale fanatics, playing the best riffs that Sabbath threw away, that you’d be a fool to miss. A FOOL I TELL YOU! And if that’s not enough for you, the last time I saw this band, they were all dressed as bananas. Be there, or be somewhere sensible.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Renewing their penchant for strong, accessible hooks and heavy rocking grooves, Swedish single-guitar four-piece One Inch Giant will release their Soulseller Records debut full-length, titled The Great White Beyond, on April 19 in Europe. The long-player follows the band’s 2011 MalvaEP (short review here), which established a fuzz rock charm offset by touches of a more metallic influence.
Should be interesting to hear how that balance might develop over the course of The Great White Beyond, and since the EP was enough to bring One Inch Giant over to the States for a run of shows (reviews here and here), I’m excited to see how the band works to get their name out for their first record. They’ve just released the first track from the album in the form of the catchy “Mountains Will Erode,” and seem to be gearing up for good things to come.
Here’s the song and a blurb grabbed from the label confirming the release date for the album:
Here’s a new track from One Inch Giant’s upcoming album “the Great White Beyond”, prepare for a riff-driven progressive metal journey! Now listen to “Mountains Will Erode,” out on April 19th across Europe!
Tracklist: 1. The Sea Opened Up 2. Mountains Will Erode 3. Malva 4. Jiraya 5. Only Scorn Remains 6. Tell Meteor From Star 7. The Years of Mist 8. Awaiting the Wave 9. My Unshaped Form 10. A Fear Aflame 11. The Great White Beyond
There’s a lot of footage swiped from a lot of places that shows up in the new Groan video, for the ultra-catchy “Gods of Fire” from their The Divine Right of Kingssophomore full-length (review here), including some out of one of the Star Trekmovies and the classic Chris Holmes interview from Decline of Western Civilization Pt. 2: The Metal Years, but Groan also manage to work in some snitched from classic ’70s horror, as they have in the past. Wherever they’ve grown from their roots, those roots are still here.
And as you’ll see in the clip, so is the band’s palpable sense of charm. Touting their new(est) slogan marking them as “67% true doom,” they unleash a video for “Gods of Fire” that once you’ve started you can’t help but finish. To wit:
Posted in audiObelisk on November 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
With goats on their brains and fuzz in their pedals, North Carolinian witch rocking foursome Bloody Hammers issued their self-titled debut on vinyl just this past Friday, Nov. 23. Soulseller Records, whose capable hands recently steered Groan‘s The Divine Right of Kings toward the public, provided their stamp of association, and the band, who previously sold out the CD version and all US-based LPs, once more rode their undeniable hooks to devil-worshiping glory.
Wavy logo font? Penta-goat head? Purple and black? They’ve got all the superficial trappings of post-Electric Wizard cult metal, and some of their fuzz bears that out, but the overarching thickness of “The Last Legion of Sorrow” and the nigh-on-gothic drama in bassistAnders Manga‘s vocals reminds more of an American-styled Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, andBloody Hammers’ pop sensibilities seal the deal in that regard. Their debut strikes an odd balance, not quite placed in one camp or another, and as the penultimate track, “Souls on Fire” most excellently shows their roundabout route to individuality.
A Sabbathian cadence (think “Under the Sun” in the verse) and mounting tension of drum stomp give way to organ-led melodic sweetness, the vocals high in the mix and slightly blown out, but winding up with swagger enough to deliver the rousing titular chorus. Aside from being among Bloody Hammers‘ most memorable cuts, “Souls on Fire” is also among the band’s best blends of the varying sides of their sound. It’s my pleasure to be able to stream the song today, and you’ll find it on the player below, followed by links to where you can get the album.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Groan’s second full-length, The Divine Right of Kings barely gives you a second to think before it gets its hooks in you. The album, boasting artwork by W. Ralph Walters and following a split with Finnish proto-doomers Vinum Sabbatum (review here) and their 2010 debut, The Sleeping Wizard (review here), also marks their first outing on Soulseller Records, opening with an immediate rush of three songs that run one into the next While I’m a fan of the band and have been since that debut – so I’m freely willing to admit that’s the perspective from which I’m writing – the momentum comes on quick and speaks for itself. Opener “Weeping Jesus” aligns the UK four-piece to both ‘70s and ‘90s-style doom ‘n’ roll quirk, and the ensuing “Sacrificial Virgins” sets the tone for much of the quality songwriting to follow, hooky choruses delivered with lighthearted arrogance by Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen – the last holdout in the band as regards adopted stage names, as both guitarist Dan Wainwright and bassist Leigh Jones have dropped theirs and newly recruited drummer Chris West (also Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight and Stubb) never had one – but it’s really not until the extended introduction of the third track, “Magic Man,” that Mazzereth really lays down the ethic at the heart of what Groan does. In preaching spoken word echoes atop tension-creating guitar feedback, he states:
Some days the bad, some days unworthy people, unrighteous business and the conventional grind brings you down. But you’re wise — you’re clever — you know how to deal with this bad situation. I’m talking about reaching for the Sabbath, the DC, the Priest. I’m talking about reaching for the Halen, the Quo, the Creedence. You fight the world with some tasty Stooges. You make your body move with some Grand Funk, some Foghat. These timeless motherfuckers bring forth the power that enables you to deal with it, to get off your ass and fight back. Hell, they may even inspire you to form a shitty rock and roll band. Never forget the healing power of rock. Never forget the crucial truth they bring. Friends, to you, I say this: When in doubt, rock it out.
From there, West taps his snare and they launch full-speed into “Magic Man,” one of The Divine Right of Kings’ best and most swaggering cuts, but more than that, it’s how much the mentality of the above defines the course of the album that stands Groan out from their peers. There are bands who would say the above and offer some ironic pose-out behind it. Hearing Groan as they present themselves on their second album, I totally believe they listen to Foghat. While drunk. Possibly with their shirts off, weather permitting.
It’s the ability to skirt the line between tongue-in-cheek chicanery and sincere appreciation for classic heavy rock, classic heavy metal and modern doom and stoner riffing that serves as the difference between Groan and any ironic shitbag act you’d want to put next to them. Groan means it. The Divine Right of Kings touches almost immediately on British horror cinema atmospheres in the spoken lyrics of “Weeping Jesus,” which has doomed plod behind it but still keeps a relatively accessible pace musically, and “Sacrificial Virgins” is as much about the up and down nod of its riff as it is the titular virgins, Jones and West proving a formidable rhythm section quickly while they underscore the perfectly-paced groove. Mazzereth urges the listener to “get down” and “feel the doom” before Wainwright takes a few measures of a solo and either a sample or more spoken vocals – they’re murky, so it’s kind of hard to tell – round out the track, leading directly into the above-noted intro to “Magic Man” and the song that follows, which is nothing if not the payoff the first two tracks built toward. Through these three tracks – which take only about 10 of the album’s total 39 minutes – Groan barely give the listener time to catch their breath or process what they’re hearing, such is the demented ADD mentality of them. Emerging on the other side of “Sacrificial Virgins,” one almost remembers the chorus in spite of the song, its start-stop cadence reminiscent of Cathedral at their most unabashedly rocking. “Magic Man” is made all the more a landmark both by its motoring musical and lyrical brashness, but also because it leads to the first genuine stop on The Divine Right of Kings, the track ending cold to precede the slowdown to come in “Dissolution.” Prior to, “Magic Man”’s groove is all punkish stoner, West’s drums providing critical engine to Wainwright’s leads as a brief slowdown in the second half picks up for a final run through the chorus.
In comparison, “Dissolution” is infinitely more doomed. The tempo is cut to a slower groove, and the atmosphere is darker in the guitar, a semi-choral opening giving the march some melodic context in the intro, though by the chorus, it’s Mazzereth who seems to be all over it, unwilling to relinquish some of the energy that “Magic Man” pushed forward. He’s mixed high and echoing, but that only adds to the classic metal vibe of the track, which is maintained despite a modern-sounding production, handled by the band themselves with a mastering job by West. Still, as the chorus comes back in the final slowdown Mazzereth moves further back in the mix to let the chants through, announcing that “our god is dead,” and while it’s clear the band are aware of their methods and the atmospheres they’re trying to concoct, it’s also a lot of fun to listen, that slowdown only serving to highlight the point that you never quite know where Groan are headed until they get there. That remains true even as The Divine Right of Kings moves into its next phase, “Dissolution” setting the tone for more straightforward presentation of the band’s balance between doom and heavy rock. The lighthearted feel is maintained – even in its darkest moments, as with the ending of “Dissolution,” Groan can’t help but be a good time – but there’s a shift in momentum. “Dissolution” and the following “Atomic Prophets” and “Gods of Fire” play into each other less than did the opening salvo, each song coming to its own end without bleeding directly into the next. It’s a shift in vibe to match the sonic turn between “Magic Man” and “Dissolution,” but what remains consistent is the level of songwriting as “Atomic Prophets” gets underway, West’s kick setting the pace soon to be picked up by the whole band while Mazzereth hangs back a bit before unleashing the first verse. For all intents and purposes, “Atomic Prophets” is the stoner rock to stand up to “Dissolution”’s doom, but there aren’t any feelings of inconsistency going from one to the next – the first three tracks having done well to set up an open expectation.
Ever the troublemakers, British stoner specialists Groan have announced a few lives dates around the release of their new album, The Divine Right of Kings. The four-piece will unleash the new album, featuring alternate-universe future classics like “How Black was Our Sabbath” and “Let’s Have a Pint at the Crooked Cock,” on Oct. 26 through Soulseller Records, and joining them for the shows will be none other than Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight.
Here are the dates, courtesy of the band:
Tue 23rd Oct Oxford, The Wheatsheaf (support TBC) Wed 24th Oct Manchester, The Bay Horse (w/Arke) Thu 25th Oct Sunderland, Venue TBC (w/Witch Charmer + Ashes of Iron) Sat 27th Oct London, The Black Heart (w/Valve, Crumbling Ghost, Dead Existence)
And to give a first look at the chicanery on tap for The Divine Right of Kings, Groan put together the following album trailer, which I’m happy to host for your perusal. Dig it and then go back to the start and dig it again:
When I reviewed Groan‘s split with Finnish trad doomers Vinum Sabbatum, a large part of the discussion centered around the departure of vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen and drummer Steve “Thor’s Hammer” Burnett. Well, as the band’s new video for the song “Magic Man” from their forthcoming The Divine Right of Kings album shows, Mazzereth is back in the band and they’ve also joined forces with the increasingly-ubiquitous Christopher West to fill the drummer slot. You might recognize West from the recently-reviewed Stubb or Trippy Wicked, who are also expected to have a new record out this year. Busy busy.
Dig the righteous rawness below, and don’t be surprised when the room starts spinning. That’s kind of Groan‘s thing: